The trouble with February being a short month is that you get caught unawares, and before you know it it’s the 3rd March and you still haven’t posted the March gig previews. So let’s crack on. Continue reading
The turn of a new month yesterday brought another Bleeding Hearts Club – a firm favourite in the Brighton Music Blog diary.
First on stage was Ian Hannah, who admitted before he started that he couldn’t play guitar. It was a reasonable statement – he probably knew less chords than Status Quo – but what he lacked in guitar playing skills, he made up for with surprisingly good songs. The experience was a bit like an uncle who you’ve never associated with music suddenly grabbing an instrument and initially playing to your prejudices, and then completely changing your mind with a great voice. I doubt he’ll be causing too many waves on the Brighton Music scene, but he was a joy to watch.
Next up was Hattie Cooke, who had stepped in at the last minute having only been asked to play at 2 o clock that afternoon. She was also using a new guitar pedal and running extra effects through an iPad which led to one or two technical difficulties. Behind all that there was a great deal of potential – The songs were there, and when things were going right, the guitar playing was stellar. With more than seven hours to prepare, this could have easily been the set of the night.
The third set fell to Christine Cooper, new to Bleeding Hearts, and relatively new to Brighton. Christine used folk music as storytelling, with a powerful voice and fantastic talent on both the fiddle and the banjo. Christine made her traditional Welsh and American folk songs effortless as she used a loop pedal combined with her violin to provide the canvas to her songs.
Last night’s final act was something of a rarity at Bleeding Hearts – someone who I’d bought music by, completely independently of any Brighton connections. Back in 2002, Tim Keegan headed up a band called Departure Lounge, and their Kid Loco produced album Too Late to Die Young was hailed in many quarters as one of the records of the year. In the last decade Tim has relocated to Brighton and quietly kept on making music under his own name, and last night we were treated to a short set of this. Departure Lounge’s big strength was Tim’s songwriting, so it was no surprise to hear beautifully crafted stripped back acoustic guitar pop. Joined onstage by another guitarist from his band, intricate guitar melodies were interwoven as naturally as if the instruments were extensions of their bodies. Once again, another amazing end to another Bleeding Hearts Club.
For those that don’t know, Bleeding Hearts is both a long-standing month night at the Prince Albert, and a local record label, run by the same people, usually promoting local folk acts. I’ll put my hands up and admit that I hadn’t been to one of their nights before, so didn’t know what to expect when I went along last night. The first thing I noticed was the tables upstairs at the Albert – most unusual, but it created a very different, much friendlier atmosphere. (The cakes on the tables may have also helped there). The format of the night is a bit different to normal too. Rather than just one or two supports, there are three supports, and they get to play just three tracks each, which leads to more variety, and adds to the impression that the time that the bands aren’t on stage is just as important as the time that they are.
First up was Paul Mosley. He plays the ukulele and has an amusing anecdote about Florence & The Machine’s harpist, which he probably tells at every gig. He says he was asked to play sad songs, but he didn’t stop smiling throughout his set. He wasn’t from Brighton though, so we’ll move swiftly on.
Next up were the Men Who Fell To Earth. From what I can tell (after wading through several thousand Google search results on David Bowie), they are from Brighton, although the lead singer had a thick Yorkshire accent. How often do you come across a native Brightonian though? I’m guessing this must have been one of their first gigs, or they’re all incredibly shy – the singer had his eyes closed throughout the gig, the drummer and the keyboard player hid in the shadows, and the bass player sat down and didn’t stop staring at his knees. There was some good songwriting underneath it all though, so let’s not pass judgement just yet.
After another fifteen minute interval, we were treated to Hattie Cooke, who broke the ice at the start of her set with a few words about the relationship between how well her sets go, nightmares, and poo. Like the previous two acts, Hattie only had three songs, so to bring a bit of variety to her set, she played one standing with her guitar, one acapella without guitar, and one seated. Speaking to the Bleeding Hearts guys, they’re big fans of hers – it would be good hear a full set to hear her full potential.
Headlining were Fragile Creatures, who were a bit rockier than the I was led to expect of the night. My first impression was “their look is a bit twenty years ago”. Then I thought “their sound is a bit dated too”. Then I realised that was the point – Following on from the success last year of the likes of Kisses and Washed Out, Fragile Creatures have constructed the look and sound of times gone by, but instead going down the 80s keyboard electro route they’ve ended up somewhere in Prefab Sprout or Simple Minds territory. Personally, I think this may have been better served by them being on a bill with other acts trying to do the same thing – it was only halfway through that I got it. Being headliners though, they got to play for twice as long, and by they end they had got some people dancing (although I think they may have been crazy drunk people who had filtered up from downstairs).
One thing that struck me about the event was the love and enthusiasm of the organisers for what they were doing, and of their loyal audience too. Whether or not I write up any more of their gigs for the blog, I’ll certainly be going back for my own pleasure.